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Nanok suspends Sh20m jamboree as drought continues to bite in Turkana

Turkana county government has suspended the annual cultural festival slated for later this month as it battles a deadly hunger linked to a prolonged drought that has hit the county.

The festival, popularly known as Tobong’u Lore (welcome back home), had already been allocated Sh20 million but Governor Josphat Nanok has been forced to suspend it following pressure by MCAs and residents.

Since its inception in 2014, Mr Nanok’s administration has been using the one-week festival to showcase the Turkana culture and promote tourist sites in the area.

Last year, Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were among the key guests who graced the event. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga attended the festival in 2015.

PROMOTE PEACE

The festival, normally held at Ekaales Center in Lodwar, has also been used to promote peace between Turkana and its neighbouring communities; Karamajong and Dodoth from Uganda, Nyangotom from Ethiopia, Toposa from South Sudan and Pokot from Kenya.

This year the county has been hardly hit by the hunger and deaths linked to it have been reported by residents. The county has been appealing for food for close to a million starving residents.

“We have postponed the annual tourism and cultural festival that had been scheduled from April 25 to 27. The Sh20 million that had been allocated to the event was channeled to drought responses,” Mr Nanok said.

FIGHTING HUNGER

Last week, MCAs adopted a motion to cancel the festival forcing the county government to postpone it.

The motion was moved by Turkwel MCA Stephen Edukon who urged Mr Nanok’s government to focus on fighting drought and hunger.

“It is shameful to allocate such funds to a three-day activity as thousands of residents are in dire need of relief food and water,” said Mr Edukon.

The MCA said that the drought had been prolonged by delayed rainfalls resulting into worsening trend of poor access to food and water.